Kids grow at rates that can sometimes be alarming, especially when you’re buying them their third pair of upsized shoes in a single school year. But do we really want to change out their furniture as often as we change the contents of their closets? It’s smart to design kids’ rooms so they shift and adapt as they get older, allowing you to keep the same furniture until they’ve left the nest.
Most kids’ bedroom designs that “grow along with them” transform in some way, often with modular elements that can be dissembled and reassembled into new shapes. It’s unusual for the design to be static and contextually flexible, like “The Room for Small Gulliver” by rhymedesign.
Architect Taka Shinomoto, rhymedesign’s founder, renovated an apartment in Nagoya, Japan to include elements that can shift in function as the clients’ child grows up. Those same elements are also usable by the adults in the house, just in different ways. Central to the design are three gray frames: one incorporated into a massive built-in book shelf, one that’s mobile so it can be moved around the space, and a large nook that frames a bay window in the kitchen.
“As in Gulliver’s Travels and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, bodies of idiosyncratic scales can turn mundane lives into fantasies and dramas,” Shinomoto explains. “The relative body sizes can put the same environment in different perspectives — for adults, chairs are always to sit on, while for children, they could function as tables, desks, and counters. Looking up at the world from below, children find and experience the world in their own ways. As they physically grow, they also develop new relationships with the physical environment.”
The architect continues: “For the Room for Small Gulliver, I designed the three different sizes of gray frames. The largest is installed as a frame of the bay window facing the outside. The smallest is part of the bookshelf. The other is portable; it can be anywhere in the room. I designed them to grow relationships with the child, as his body and mind matures. The nook where his body completely fits can soon become a casual seat. The gate to the closet will not remain as it is experienced today, when the children’s body feels it differently. The portable frame should turn to a counter from a secret capsule in the near future.”
One of the coolest aspects of this design is that the child’s space isn’t separated from those of the adults. It’s actually in the living room, making the bulk of the home shared family space, though the parents do have their own tranquil bedroom for privacy and quiet.
The child’s experience of these spaces will change over time, but his enjoyment is considered just as important as that of the adults. While the shared areas are airy, white, and brightly illuminated, the bedroom is more like a cave, with the walls and ceiling painted a deep forest green that matches the bedding. The entrance to the closet is hidden behind an oversized picture of deer in the woods.